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Why Apple is Buying Israeli Company Anobit

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Monday, December 19th, 2011

As reported in ZDnet: Calcalist says that Apple is making its largest hardware acquisition ever: Israeli firm Anobit. Who are they and what would they do for Apple? I’ve spoken to Anobit’s CTO, Avraham Meir, and studied the technology. Here’s what they’re buying – and why.

If the story is correct, Apple is not only getting “magical” technology, but also some of the world’s foremost flash memory technologists.

Apple strategy
Apple’s high gross margins and huge cash hoard mean it can make investments that no competitor can. Many of their investments are in the supply chain – thousands of CNC machines, or billions of dollars of flash – but they also make technology investments where they believe they can create a lasting competitive advantage.

Will buying Anobit for a reported $400-500 million give them a lasting competitive advantage? Here’s the scoop.

Anobit’s technology
Flash is not a well-behaved storage medium. It has many problems – fast writes are hard, data wants to leak away, and there’s a ticklish relationship between the number of writes and how long data can be retained – and it’s getting worse as chip capacities increase.

Flash works by trapping little clouds of electrons in cells. As feature sizes shrink those cells get smaller – and so does the number of electrons in a single bit. With the move to 3 and 4 bits per cell, the electron cloud gets down to a few hundred electrons per bit.

Electrons – tiny, negatively charged particles – like to escape their cells. That threatens your data integrity.

Anobit’s technology combines signal processing with flash management to tame rowdy electrons and make flash look like a proper storage medium.

To read the full article, please click here.